Monday, October 6, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

Fall is here and that means comfort food. We had some friends over on Sunday to watch the Panthers game.  What better dish to make for a crowd than a big batch of mac and cheese?  Buffalo chicken mac and cheese sounded perfect for a football game.  I've been wanting to come up with a recipe like this for a while.  Blue cheese is one of those things some people just really hate, so I didn't want this dish to be overpowered with Blue cheese.  I used Gorgonzola cheese because it is a little milder than regular Blue cheese. Everyone agreed that it was subtle and really good!  Here's how to make it:

What you'll need:

1 Rotisserie chicken, shredded
3 T unsalted Butter
3 T flour
2 cups whole Milk
3/4 cup Hot sauce, I used Franks
1 lb. sharp Cheddar cheese
8 oz. Blue cheese, I used Gorgonzola
6 slices Bacon, sliced
1 Onion, diced
3 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs. Pasta, I used Cavatappi
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 T fresh Parsley, minced
Red onion, cut in thin rings
Tomato, cut in thick slices
Scallions, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Shred the rotisserie chicken.  Just pull it apart with your hands in bite size pieces.  Get as much meat off as you can!  Set aside.

Grate the cheddar cheese and crumble the blue cheese.  Set aside.

Cheese sauce:
In a pot, melt the butter.  When it bubbles, whisk in the flour and cook until the flour dissolves.  Add the milk and stir until the milk barely starts to simmer.  Lower the heat and whisk in the cheddar and 5 oz of the blue cheese.  Stir in half of the hot sauce.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until it renders off some fat.  Add in the onion and continue to cook until the onion is translucent and the bacon is crispy.  Add the garlic, shredded chicken and the rest of the hot sauce.  Stir to combine and set aside.

Cook the pasta in salted water until it is al dente.  You want it to still have a nice bite to it.  Drain.

Put the drained pasta back into the pot and pour in all of the cheese sauce.  Stir really well.  You want the sauce to get into the pasta. Add the contents of the skillet with the chicken to the pot.  Stir to combine making sure everything is evenly mixed.

Pour everything into a large baking dish. Sprinkle the rest of the blue cheese over the top.

In a small bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs with the parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Pour the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the mac and cheese.

Scatter thin slices of red onion and the tomato slices over the top of the mac and cheese for some extra flavor and color.  I think it adds a little something extra.  You can skip this step if you want to.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the breadcrumbs have browned.  Let it rest for a few minutes when it comes out of the oven.  Sprinkle lots of scallions over top and dig in.  Happy game day!

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